18 May 2023

Innovations in Crop Protection towards Sustainable Agriculture

Organised by:

SCI’s Fine Chemicals group, SCI’s Agrisciences group and RSC’s Agriculture Sector

SCI, London, UK

Registration Closed

This event is no longer available for registration.


The rate of new crop protection product approvals has decreased in recent years, but the need for new solutions has never been higher. Pressure on existing products from resistance and regulatory requirements as well as the changing needs of growers and societal expectations, mean that we must increase the rate of innovation as we strive towards sustainable agriculture. This conference will highlight how advances in multiple areas including organic chemistry, machine learning and AI, small molecule design and target identification are changing discovery programmes in agrochemical research. The talks will showcase the approaches taken in both industry and academia to support the identification of new and novel crop protection solutions.


This event will be of interest to anyone working in industry or in academia on synthetic organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, new biochemical targets for weed, insect and disease control, lab automation, and innovations in small molecule design.

Sponsorship Information

For further information and prices, please email conferences@soci.org


Allan Watson

Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of St. Andrews

Allan Watson completed MSci Pure and Applied Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow from 1999 to 2004. He then received a PhD from the University of Strathclyde from 2004 to 2008. After Lindemann Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University from 2008 to 2010 with Prof. Sir D. W. C. MacMillan he completed Industrial postdoc at GlaxoSmithKline, Stevenage from 2010 to 2011. From October 2011 to November 2015 he was a lecturer at the University of Strathclyde to becoming a senior Lecturer in November 2015 to December 2017. From January 2018 to July 2021 he was a reader in Homogeneous Catalysis at the University of St. Andrews where he is now a professor of Organic Chemistry.

Andrew Williams


Andrew Williams joined MoA in March 2023 as a Senior Fellow in Discovery Chemistry. A synthetic organic chemistry by training, Andrew brings over 30 years of pharmaceutical industry experience as a medicinal chemist and project leader, gained whilst at Eli Lilly. Specialising in the hit-to-lead, and especially in the lead-to-candidate phases of drug discovery, Andrew has led cross-functional project teams across multiple therapeutic areas, and has delivered more than 15 candidate molecules into clinical development. Andrew completed his D Phil studies at Oxford University, before undertaking post-doctoral research at the University of Minnesota.

Fides Benfatti


Fides Benfatti studied Chemistry at the University of Bologna in Italy, where she obtained her Master degree in 2004. The same year, she started in Bologna her PhD in the field of Medicinal Chemistry. After obtaining her PhD in 2008, Fides started her post-doctoral studies in the field of asymmetric catalysis, under the supervision of Professor P.G. Cozzi.
In 2012, after a second post doc at EPFL Lausanne in the group of Professor J. Waser, she joined Syngenta Crop Protection in Switzerland as Team Leader in Research Chemistry.
At Syngenta, Fides covered several roles, including Head of Insect control Lead Generation for 6 years and Head of Computational Chemical Design and Modelling. Since 2022 she is leading the Research Chemistry section which focuses on Insect and Disease control.

Giulio Volpin

Bayer AG

Giulio Volpin has a background in pharmaceutical chemistry and technology and has conducted graduate studies in the area natural products total synthesis. He is currently a Lab Leader in Process Research at Bayer AG, Crop Science Division, where his work focuses on route scouting and scale-up for novel crop protection active ingredients, as well as the advancement of digital chemistry and data science for chemical applications.

James Bull

Department of Chemistry, Imperial College London

James Bull is a University Research Fellow and Reader in Synthetic Chemistry at Imperial College London. He obtained his undergraduate MSci degree from the University of Cambridge, then spent a year at GlaxoSmithKline. He returned to University of Cambridge to obtain his PhD under the supervision of Professor Steven Ley. In 2007 he joined the group of Professor André Charette as a postdoctoral fellow at Université de Montréal. He joined Imperial College London in 2009 as a Ramsay Memorial Research Fellow, and in 2011 was awarded an EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowship. In January 2016, he was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. He recently received the AstraZeneca prize for synthetic chemistry (2021). His research targets methods for the synthesis of biologically relevant chemical motifs.

Joachim Dickhaut


Joachim Dickhaut is a chemist by training. After starting in pharmaceutical research, he moved to agrochemicals where he worked in since 1998. Since 2004 he is a member of insecticide research at BASF. While spending most of the time in early phase discovery, he is also one of the inventors of Fenmezoditiaz and led the project through the early phases. Additionally, Joachim has a strong interest in digitalization and led several projects in this area.

Thomas Stevenson

FMC Agricultural Solutions Herbicide Discovery Chemistry

Thomas Stevenson received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1983, under the supervision of Nelson J. Leonard. After postdoctoral research at the University of Geneva in Switzerland from 1983 to 1985 with Wolfgang Oppolzer, Stevenson joined DuPont Crop Protection in 1985 as a research chemist, rising in ranks to DuPont Fellow. Upon his retirement in 2017, he joined FMC Agricultural Solutions as an FMC Fellow.
During his career he has proven to be a prolific inventor in the field of agricultural chemistry across insecticides, fungicides and herbicides. He holds over 80 issued United States patents and has presented over 120 lectures and posters at scientific meetings.


Thursday 18 May

Registration and Refreshments
Session 1: Case Studies in the discovery of new agrochemicals - Chaired by David Barber, Bayer CropScience
Welcome Remarks
Kenny Ling, Syngenta
Innovation at Syngenta: strategies, tools and lessons learned
Fides Benfatti, Syngenta
Discovery and development of Fenmezoditiaz
Joachim Dickhaut, BASF
Session 2: Emerging Technologies for Crop Protection - Chaired by Vicky Jackson, Globachem
MOA’s Approach to Novel Mode of Action Herbicides
Andrew Williams, MOA Technologies
Using trehalose-6-phosphate to improve crop yields and resilience
Cara Griffiths, SugaROx
Session 3: Advances in synthesis for Crop Protection discovery and development - Chaired by Kenny Ling, Syngenta
Synthesis of sulfoximines and sulfonimidamides: attractive motifs for agrochemicals
James Bull, Imperial College
Open-Source Chromatographic Data Analysis for Chemical Reaction Optimization
Giulio Volpin, Bayer
A New Herbicide Vector via Total Synthesis and SAR of Alternaric acid
Allan Watson, University of St Andrews
Session 4: Case studies and perspectives in Crop Protection Research
Discovery and optimization of Rimisoxafen, a novel herbicide
Thomas Stevenson, FMC [Virtual]
Recent Innovations and New Technologies for Sustainable Crop Protection of the Future
Peter Maienfisch, CreInSol
Closing Remarks
Vicky Jackson, GlobaChem
Networking Reception

Venue and Contact


14/15 Belgrave Square

Conference Team

Tel: +44 (0)20 7598 1561

Email: conferences@soci.org

Before early bird - ends 6 April 2023
SCI/RSC* Member - £50
Non-member - £100
SCI/RSC* Student Member - £35
After early bird
SCI/RSC* Member - £100
Non-member - £150
SCI/RSC* Student Member - £60

 *RSC members should email their name, membership type and number to conferences@soci.org in order to receive the relevant code to book for this event.

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SCI’s Fine Chemicals Group are committed to promoting diversity and equality in the chemical sciences. We aim to identify high quality speakers for all our conferences with inclusivity of gender and ethnicity. Attendees from all backgrounds and ages are welcome.



Organising Committee

David Barber, SCI/ Bayer
Al Dossetter, SCI/ Medchemica LtdVictoria Jackson, SCI/ Globachem Discovery Ltd
Victoria Jackson, SCI/ Globachem Discovery Ltd
Kenneth Ling, SCI/ Syngenta